Port wine stain is a type of birth mark which is usually seen on face and neck. Sometime the skin of other body parts is also involved. As the name suggests this birth mark is red or purple in appearance just like the color of port wine splashed on the skin. Very rarely port wine spot can also appear later in life. Port wine stain is formed as a result of capillary malformation under the skin layer. It consists of scattered dilated blood vessels in the superficial dermis.
Statistics suggests that at least three out of one thousand babies born may develop port wine birth mark.It may vary in size from few millimeters to few centimeters. At birth, the spot is light pink in color which gradually becomes deep purple due to sluggish blood flow in capillaries. The skin above the stain is smooth in the beginning, but as time passes it becomes thick, hard and bumpy.
Port wine stain is not a serious problem except some people may not like it due to cosmetic reasons. The hard lump is prone to bleed from a traumatic injury.
What Causes A Port Wine Stain Birthmark?
Also known with the medical name nevus flammeus, port wine stain is a problem associated with malformation of blood vessel in localized area of skin.The blood vessel involved is tiny capillaries. In port wine stain they remain dilated permanently. Experts assume it occurs when the nerve supply to the capillaries is at fault or damaged. Since the faulty or damaged nerve is not able to send message to contract, the capillaries remain dilated all the time in that local spot.
This type of birth mark is called vascular birth mark. It is not a hereditary problem and there is no preponderance for any gender. Male and female are equally affected. In most cases port wine mark is present since birth. But sometime it may also appear later in life, in such cases skin damage or excess sun exposure is believed to be the cause.
Laser Treatment For Port Wine Stain Removal
Port wine stains normally are not a cause of worry. They are just harmless vascular birth marks without giving any problem or pain. However, stains near the eyes or on forehead needs to be monitored as at times they may indicate some rare medical condition such as Sturge–weber syndrome, a neurological disorder consisting of delay in developmental milestones, seizures. Stains on eyelids may indicate Glaucoma, though very rarely.
It was difficult to remove port wine stain in olden days, but with advent of laser, removal of port wine has become easy process. Especially the results are satisfactory when the treatment is done at an early stage of childhood. Usually pulsed Dye laser is the treatment of choice. The spots can be faded or removed in child as young as 2 to 3 months.
It’s found to be effective on small spots on face, but less satisfactory on arms and legs. The laser penetrates deeply into the skin and targets the capillaries which without hurting the skin layer. The child may need to be anesthetized while giving the laser. It may take up to 10 session of treatment for its removal. This depends on the size and color of the port wine stain. For few days, pain bruising and swelling may be seen on the local area but soon disappears.
Those who do not want to remove this vascular birth mark with laser therapy; the other option is to mask the stain with skin camouflaging creams. You may require a cream that matches the tone of your skin color. Applying camouflage cream, masks the port wine stains and helps to boost your self confidence.